Heather Keaney


Professor of History
Phone: (805) 565-7148
Email: hkeaney@westmont.edu
Office Location: Deane Hall 214

Office Hours
For Spring 2018 Dr. Keaney is currently leading the WESTMONT IN CAIRO program.

Middle East

DR. HEATHER KEANEY graduated from Westmont College and then received her MA and PhD from the University of California, Santa Barbara.  Her book Medieval Islamic Historiography: Remembering Rebellion (Routledge, 2013) analyzes portrayals in Arab biographies and chronicles from the 9th to 14th centuries of the first Islamic civil war (fitna).  She focuses on how treatments of the revolt reveal ongoing religio-political debates over pursuing justice versus maintaining the unity of the community.   Clearly this tension has ongoing relevance in the region.  Currently she is interested in how al-Azhar is positioning itself on this debate in the midst of the Arab Spring.  Her course offerings include “The Age of Islamic Empires” and “The Modern Middle East” and “Women in the Middle East.”    She lived and worked in Cairo, Egypt in 1998-1999 and 2000-2011.  She is the co-director of the “Westmont in Istanbul” study abroad semester.

Professor Keaney is enthusiastic about helping students place the events that make headlines in the Middle East within their historical and cultural context in order to reveal their human dimension. She hopes students will come to share some of her love and passion for the place and its people.


Medieval Islamic Historiography: Remembering Rebellion (New York: Routledge, 2013)

“Confronting the Caliph: ‘Uthman ibn ‘Affan in three ‘Abbasid Chronicles,” Studia Islamica (1: 2011), pp 37-65.

“Taha Husayn, Tabari and the Future of History in Egypt,” in James E. Lindsay and Jon Armajani, eds., Historical Dimensions of Islam: Essays in Honor of R. Stephen Humphreys. Princeton: Darwin Press, 2009.

“Caliph,” “Caliphate,” “Copts,” “Crusades,” “Islam and Politics,” “Islamic Government,” “Mamluk,” “Sultan,” “Saladin” and “Vizier” in Juan E. Campo, ed., Encyclopedia of Islam volume ofEncyclopedia of World Religions. New York: Facts on File, Inc., 2009.*

“The First Islamic Revolt in Mamluk Collective Memory: Ibn Bakr’s (d. 1340) Portrayal of the Third Caliph ‘Uthman” in Sebastian Guenther ed., Ideas, Images, and Methods of Portrayal: Insights into Classical Arabic Literature and Islam. (Leiden: Brill, 2005).

Book Review of Salwa Ismail, Rethinking Islamist Politics: Culture, the State and Islamism in International Journal of Middle East Studies, 37 (2005).